Comic Reviews: Forever Evil: Arkham War and The Walking Dead!
Of all of the Forever Evil tie-ins, Arkham War was the one I was most looking forward to. Batman’s villains fighting amongst each other for control of Gotham City? Sign me the hell up. Written by Batman & Robin scribe Peter J. Tomasi, my expectations were extremely high for the first part of this six-issue miniseries, and I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed at all.
Spinning directly out of the events of Forever Evil (and the Scarecrow and Bane Villains Month issues), Arkham War finds the denizens of Arkham Asylum running amok in Gotham City. With Batman believed dead and the members of the Secret Society in charge, various inmates like Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and Killer Croc have carved up sections of the city as their turf. This surprising show of fair play amongst the villains was the idea of the Penguin, who declares himself mayor. This opening issue finds Scarecrow meeting with different villains in an attempt to get them to combine forces against Bane, who Scarecrow believes is planning to take the city by force.
Scarecrow’s hunch is proven correct of course, and the issue transitions to Bane arriving at Blackgate Penitentiary . In his hostile takeover, Bane leads a group riot, assembling his own army consisting of Rag Doll, The Reaper, and two hundred mercenaries. Oh, he also finds the secret vault in Blackgate containing the Court Of Owls’ Talon assassins. It’s safe to say that the deck is currently stacked in Bane’s favor.
Peter J. Tomasi’s script is so good that it hurts. He clearly has the different mannerisms of Batman’s rogues down solid, and seeing his extremely creepy characterization of Professor Pyg in the opening pages of the issue was downright horrifying. Tomasi’s take on Bane is also spot on, and reminds me of Tom Hardy’s vicious portrayal of the mercenary in The Dark Knight Rises. Bane’s plan fits entirely with his character: he’s taking Gotham because he once controlled it the last time Batman was missing, and he believes that he’s the only one worthy enough to control it. Bane’s superiority over the Arkham inmates is practically oozing off the page in his dialogue, and it actually makes it difficult to pick a winner when the fight this issue is building to eventually breaks out. Bane is clearly at an advantage physically, but the other rogues shouldn’t be counted out just yet. They’re the underdog in this fight, and we all know what happens to the underdogs….
Scott Eaton handles the art duties, and while I’m not familiar with his work, he does a great job here. There’s a great sense of eeriness that Eaton brings to characters like Scarecrow and Professor Pyg that makes this a great book for this time of year. His classic takes on the Batman villains don’t rock the boat too much visually, but they’re also not playing it safe either. Bane’s attack on Blackgate, and his interrogation of the guards that work there is the highlight of the book, and I can’t wait to see what else Eaton has up his sleeve.
Forever Evil: Arkham War may seem like a cash grab tie-in, but it’s actually one of the best opening issues I’ve read all year. Yes, it makes references to Forever Evil, but much of what you need to know is laid out to in the opening pages of the book, so you can pick this up even if you have no desire to read the current DC event. Arkham War is great comics, plain and simple, and fans of the Batman should NOT miss this.
“All Out War” begins in the Walking Dead #115, which marks the tenth anniversary of the little indie comic that could. It’s amazing to see how far Robert Kirkman’s zombie epic has come in the course of a decade, and this issue shows us that the book isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Following last issue’s confrontation with Negan, Rick has convinced the two other communities to combine forces and end his reign once and for all. Kirkman keeps us in the dark as to what Rick’s actual plan is, which is one of the parts that makes the issue work so well. The Walking Dead has been in one of its “ramp up” phases, and things are finally starting to hit their climax in this issue. As always, there are the usual character moments that are now typical before any big event in the book. We see Rick and Andrea in a quiet moment the morning of Rick’s march which is fantastic, but my personal favorite is Ezekiel’s scene, because let’s face it, the man has a tiger and is awesome.
Charlie Adlard’s art is still just as great as always. While there’s a distinct lack of rotting flesh for him to draw, it proves a testament of how fantastic this series is that you don’t miss the zombies at all. The only drawback for this issue is that it’s not that new-reader friendly. Sure, people can grab it and start off on the newest story arc, but those picking it up after this Sunday’s season premiere will be so confused that they’ll never pick up the book again. However, for those that either forgot to pick this up or have been thinking of dropping the book, I can assure you that this issue is leading to insane things, and needs to be read by Walking Dead fans.